Tag Archives: kingdom of god

Kingdom of Cannibals?

10 May

Many years ago, a young Jewish man from Galilee began shaking things up. He referred to himself regularly as the “son of man” but at times also implied he was the son of God. Many people though he was the man they had been waiting for. Prophecies long ago had told of a man from God who would restore God’s kingdom on the earth. The Jewish people knew exactly what that meant. In their minds, that meant that a messiah would come and rescue Israel from their oppressors and then set up a perfect Jewish kingdom that would last forever.

But the messiah they got was not the messiah they expected. While they expected him to begin gathering weapons and training soldiers, He instead traveled from town to town teaching, healing, and showing up their religious leaders.

Once, he miraculously fed a crowd of thousands with only a few loaves and fishes (John  6.5-13). The people were astounded! If they could have a messiah that not only ended the Roman occupation, but could also miraculously provide food, there would be no stopping them! The people made up their minds that no more time could be wasted, they must make him their king!

By now, the man, Jesus, was avoiding the crowds, choosing instead to spend his time off in the wilderness. But even then the crowds hunted him down. But this time, the crowds were coming for more than to hear his teaching or see a miracle. They were going to force him into his destiny as their king (Jhn 6.15). They raced around the lake of Galilee to find where he had gone (Jhn 6.25).

Jesus, though, was not ignorant of their plans. He knew what they wanted of him, and even more He knew what his purpose really was. Regardless of how many times he had taught love over violence (Luk 6.27) and forgiveness over revenge (Mat 5.38-45;Mat. 18-21-22), the message had rarely made it through their thick skins. He was not there to fight (Jhn 3.17), he was there to model a different and better way of living.

The situation was tense when they found him, but before the crowd could do anything, Jesus shocked them with these words:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in them.” (Jhn 6.53-56)

This caught them by surprise and completely disarmed them. They entered that situation set on making him their king, and now they were hearing him say that needed to drink his blood and eat his body? They could not recall anything in their prophecies about Israel becoming a kingdom of cannibals! Why would he say such a thing?

The sad fact is that most of his followers did not listen past the first line of that teaching, and it is recorded that “many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more.” (Jhn 6.66)

This was no mistake, though, on Jesus’ part. He was giving them a glimpse into his own heart and his own motives. They wanted a powerful king who would save them from the Romans. He wanted to save their souls. They wanted Him to live in a palace, but He wanted to live in their hearts. They wanted him to take up weapons and spill the blood of humans, but he wanted to give his own life for them.

Jesus said, “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them.” He lived, died, and rose again to show us a better way of living. No more eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth. And he calls us as he called those Jewish people so long ago to do the same. He wants us to partake of his flesh and his blood, so we can continue his ministry in the world.

Jesus is alive and well on the earth today through the bodies of those of us who follow him. The life he offers us is his life, and it’s a life lived for others. Unlike the violent kingdoms of the world, we are part of a peaceful kingdom where rather than shed the blood of others, we give our lives for the sake of others, even if it means allowing our own blood to be shed.

Jesus gave his life for us, in order to free us from guilt, from shame, and from the old way of living. And today he invites us to join him in his resurrection as he works through us to redeem the entire world and everyone in it.

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The Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ

1 Aug

Power, Signs, and Gifts: Part 2
The Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the world, in its Edenic perfection, was good (Gen 1:31). At this time, mankind walked and talked with God face-to-face, there was no pain, suffering, sickness, death or any other such hardships that we experience today. And in this perfect state, mankind was given dominion over the earth and everything in it (Gen 1:26). This was God’s ideal for the world and mankind. But soon afterward, man left God’s ideal and followed the serpent instead (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-6), effectively giving dominion of the earth over to the devil (Luk 4:6). Along with sin came pain, suffering, death, violence, discontentment and physical hardships. This is the opposite of God’s ideal. So it begs the question, did God mess up? NO!

God is omniscient, which means that He knows absolutely everything (1 Jo 3:20; Job 37:16; Ps 147:5). God knew what would happen to His perfect creation and yet still decided to make it. But God was not willing that His creation should be entirely lost, so He put into motion a plan to redeem the world and its people. In Genesis 3:15, God indicated that there would be a son born on the earth who will crush the head of the devil. This perfect Son of Man is Jesus, who came to the world two thousand years ago and gave His life to redeem the souls of mankind. But while the souls of believers have been redeemed, the physical world has yet to be redeemed. Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, two angels told His disciples that “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Act 1:11) That is the day that the whole world longs for (Rom 8:22). But what will characterize His return?

When Jesus returns, He will come with awesome power and glory (Mar 13:26) and cast out the devil (Rev 19:11-20:4) and all unrighteous people from the world (Mat 25:31-46). Then He will set up the perfect kingdom of God upon the earth (Rev 20:4-6). Right now, the kingdom of God is only a spiritual reality within the hearts of believers, but when the kingdom of God merges with the physical world, the characteristics that currently prevail only in the hearts of believers will for the first time since the fall prevail over the entire face of the earth! With Jesus as King of the world, righteousness, peace, and joy will reign! We know from the book of Isaiah that the major elements of the curse will be folded back and “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb” (Is 11:6) and “the nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole” (Is 11:8). Also, all the spiritual cloudiness of today will be done away with and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is 11:9). At this time, thorns and thistles will all go away (Is 32:13-15) and the dry, barren parts of the earth will “blossom as the rose” (Is 35:1-7). Lastly, all physical deformity and sickness will be done away with as Jesus the great healer reigns as King (Is 33:24; 35:5-6)!

Some people might ask, “How do we know that Jesus has the power to accomplish all these great things?” Well, we know that He has the power to accomplish these things because He displayed that power while He was on the earth the first time. He did many great wonders and miracles showing his power and authority over physical infirmity, nature, demonic forces, and even death itself. He was at that time giving the world a taste of what is to come.

So now back to our question, “Did God mess up?” He most certainly did not. He had a plan which He began unfolding immediately after the fall and is still unfolding today. When Jesus Christ comes again, He will bring fulfillment to the earth and mankind. He is the “perfect” fulfillment of everything that God had planned. It is in hope and expectation of this future day that we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” May we live every day in light of this incredible truth.

The Kingdom of God

27 Jul

Power, Signs, and Gifts: Part 1
The Kingdom of God

“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Matthew 12:28

In the twelfth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus attributes His power to the “kingdom of God.” But what exactly does that mean? Well, the Apostle Paul uses four terms to describe this kingdom. In Romans 14:17, he describes it as “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” In 1 Corinthians 4:20, he adds that “the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” So that leaves us four terms with which to describe this kingdom. Now what can we learn from these?

First, the kingdom of God is a kingdom of “righteousness,” but this is deeper than mere outward righteousness, it is righteousness “in the Holy Spirit.” This inward righteousness can only be found in those people who have put their trust in Jesus Christ and have had His righteousness applied to their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 3:22, Phl 3:9). This would necessarily exclude unbelievers. So we learn from this that the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom which includes born-again (Jhn 3:3) believers in Jesus Christ.

Next, the kingdom of God is “peace and joy.” Once again, this is “in the Holy Spirit” which means that it is spiritual. Before leaving this world, Jesus promised his followers both peace (Jhn 14:27) and joy (Jhn 15:11). This is a present reality in believers. In an ever-changing world full of constant pain and strife, Christians receive their joy and peace from Jesus Himself. Being a member of this kingdom certainly does have benefits!

Lastly, the kingdom of God is “power.” Jesus, as the perfect earthly ambassador of this kingdom, displayed power over physical infirmity (Mat 8:1-17), power over nature (Mat 8:23-27, power over demonic forces (Mat 8:28-34), and even power over death (Mat 9:18-26).

Because the kingdom of God is spiritual, the unbelieving world can not see it. But Jesus as an ambassador to that kingdom, showed the righteousness, peace, joy, and power of that kingdom to the world through His life. And when He left the earth, he left that responsibility to His followers. But what really is the point of this responsibility?

In the future, when Jesus returns to set up His millennial kingdom (Rev 19:11-20:6), the perfect kingdom of God will actually come down with Him. At that time the spiritual kingdom of God will merge with the physical kingdom of the heavens (all created matter from the third heaven [2 Cr 12:2] down to the earth) and for the first time will become a constant visible reality upon the earth! This is what Jesus demonstrated at His transfiguration (Mar 9:1-6).

As ambassadors of the kingdom of God, Christians are to manifest through their lives the righteousness, peace, joy and power of the kingdom in order to give the world a taste of what is to come. As Jesus lived, so are we to live. It truly is an awesome responsibility.